Young loves still glow in old hearts
It seems like just yesterday that Rex Lawler tripped up and landed on Irene's feet in the middle of dance floor in northern Wales.
But that was Valentines Day 70 years ago.
"We had been in the pub, and I came in to the dance hall. I saw Irene on the mezzanine floor and walked towards her but tripped and ended up on her feet. I've been there since," Rex, 93, says.
The couple celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary on February 16. Before they married the couple had to wait two years as Rex was a Spitfire pilot called to duty in Burma.
"After two years of correspondence he asked if we could get engaged but my parents thought I was too young. They let us marry eventually. But on the train when we were leaving I still remember my dad yelling out to Rex ‘she doesn't even know how to make a loaf of bread'."
The Lawlers moved to New Zealand the year they married to live with Rex's parents in Manawatu.
The couple were among dozens of Summerset Falls residents who celebrated Valentines Day with morning tea and stories of their weddings. Seven of the residents brought out a collection of memoirs kept from their special days, including their wedding gowns.
For residents Margaret and Raymond Pratt it was love at first sight.
The couple met at an X-ray department of a Dunedin hospital in 1946.
"I still remember seeing this young man walking down the corridor. He was new in the department and I was a radiographer," Margaret, 93, says.
The couple married on January 31, 1948, at North East Valley Presbyterian Church in Dunedin.
Her dress of cotton lace was made for her by a friend of her mother's.
"Queen Elizabeth got married a year before and had a peplum dress, so that's why I chose mine."
Margaret Cross says she clearly remembers her wedding day at Westmere Presbyterian Church in Wanganui on December 19, 1951.
"My mother met me at the door and said there wouldn't be any music. But when I walked down the aisle it was playing. My brother-in-law was down on his knees working the pedal of the organ to make it go. It had broken.
"During the ceremony the minister asked if there was any reason David and I shouldn't be married. My 15-month-old nephew let out a shout. People looked around but realised it was him and the minister carried on."
Margaret bought her wedding dress material from Smith and Caughey.
"My bridesmaid made the pattern and cut the dress out. We sewed it together."
Ken and Judy McGregor say their wedding was a blur but Judy recalls walking up the aisle with a friend who talked the whole time.
"He was trying to calm me, but I wanted him to be quiet," Judy says.
Ken remembers turning to get a glimpse of Judy as she walked towards him at St Lukes Anglican Church in Rotorua. The couple married on May 27, 1961.
Judy's dress was made of heavy brocade and embroidered with crystals and pearls by her mother.
Pam Poole was nervous on her wedding day, "but it was a happy and beautiful day".
Pam married Richie on December 21, 1957, at Mt Eden Presbyterian Church after a long engagement.
"Richie was training as a dentist in Dunedin and I worked in Auckland as a nurse. So we had to wait."
Richie died last year.
Pam's gown was made by her dressmaking sisters.